A three-judge panel of the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Thursday denied Republicans’ request to dismiss a redistricting lawsuit brought by Democrats. Republicans aimed for the case to be moved to state court, as the Wisconsin Supreme Court is controlled by conservative judges, but the panel’s ruling keeps the case in the federal courts.
In the ruling, the panel combined two redistricting lawsuits that were filed by liberal groups. Additionally, the court permitted Wisconsin’s five Republican congressmen and Democratic Governor Tony Evers to intervene in the case.
The lawsuit argues that Wisconsin’s map is malapportioned because the population of districts are illegally lopsided. According to experts, Wisconsin’s maps are among the most gerrymandered maps in the country. The lawsuit is seeking for the court to redraw Wisconsin’s political boundaries if bipartisan efforts fail to do so in time for the 2022 elections. Redistricting involves drawing new legislative and congressional districts.
The panel rejected Republicans’ request to dismiss the lawsuit because federal courts have intervened in the previous three redistricting cycles when Wisconsin’s government control was divided, as it currently is.
“Given this historical pattern, and the urgent requirement of prompt action, the panel will deny the Legislature’s motion to dismiss,” the panel wrote in its ruling. “The court and the parties must prepare now to resolve the redistricting dispute, should the state fail to establish new maps in time for the 2022 elections.”